How can I stop thinking about how I was wounded?

Chris —  September 17, 2010

A sermon I gave today near Washington D.C. outlines a strategy for how people can have victory over the mental turmoil that comes from being deeply wounded.

Today (D.V.) I preached at the National Peacemakers Conference.  The question I sought to address is how we can experience mental victory over the emotional turmoil that comes of being deeply wounded.  (I also wrote about this in Unpacking Forgiveness).

The theological basics of forgiveness are straight-forward.  We are called to forgive others as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32).  Living this out is often a different matter.  Often we find that even when we have resolved to follow the example of Christ, it is not easy to jump off the mental gerbil wheel in which we run as fast as we can mentally without making any progress.

Most can remember a time when it was hard to stop thinking about a way they were wounded.

The central point of my sermon from Psalm 73 was that one strategy for emotional victory is to, “Cultivate a vivid picture of the final redemptive (eschatological) work of Christ.” Rather, than being absorbed in analysis of how we were hurt, we ought to occupy our minds with what the Bible teaches about the return of Christ.

I developed this point from Psalm 73.  There, the Psalmist admits that when he tried to understand injustice in his own strength, he was worn out (Psalm 73:16).  He was only able to experience victory over mental turmoil by understanding the final destiny of evil people (Psalm 73:16-17) and focused on the blessed hope of ultimately being received into glory (Psalm 73:24).

So, if you say to me, “I want to forgive someone, but I just can’t stop thinking about it.”  Based on the teaching of Scripture, I would tell you, “Cultivate a vivid picture of the future work of Christ.”

You might say in turn – – “Well, how will this help?  Why will that make any difference?”  It will help in at least 3 ways.

  • In cultivating a vivid picture of the final redemptive work of Christ you will be assured of justice.  It is in picturing the final work of Christ that the Psalmist understands that justice will be served in God’s timing.  This is a continuing theme throughout all of Scripture.  We need not fret because of evildoers.  God will see that it is set right (Psalm 37:1-2).
  • In cultivating a vivid picture of the final redemptive work of Christ you will be motivated to be merciful. Scripture warns that those unwilling to follow God’s gracious example should fear for their souls (Matthew 18:21-35.  Blessed are the merciful (Matthew 5:7).  It is the peacemakers that will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
  • In cultivating a vivid picture of the final redemptive work of Christ your mind and heart will be enthralled with the beauty of God’s plan of redemption. Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far surpasses whatever trials we may face now.  As Jonathan Edwards encouraged, if the disciples had access to our Lord during his first advent, how much more will we on the New Earth.

None of us can think our way through the twisted thorns of our painful pasts.  We only find that our own thoughts pierce us again and again.  It’s only as we focus on Christ – – particularly on what he will do when he returns that we will be so absorbed in the beauty of being in his presence on the New Earth that we will stop thinking about our wounds.

On Monday, I plan to post some very specific suggestions for how we can stop thinking about how we have been wounded.  For now, reading through Psalm 73 (and also Psalm 37) is a good place to begin.

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17 responses to How can I stop thinking about how I was wounded?

  1. would you please address those who forgive deep hurts inflicted by an unrepentant spouse?

  2. My friend and I were just talking about this today – we both have what could be labelled mild post-traumatic stress from frightening/horrifying situations in our (former) marriages. It makes us distrustful of people and hurts our lives. I’ll share this article with her. I also think it’s good to remember that there can be actual, physical brain chemistry changes for those of us who have experienced trauma – and so sometimes we just have to literally cry out to God to help our “brain damaged” selves overcome…and, for those of you who work with helping people forgive, it might offer you/us insight into why people act the way they do. It means we all have to develop an extra level of patience with people who perhaps have been so traumatized by life situations that they find it hard to forgive.

  3. Forgiving brings so much joy and peace, both for the one forgiving and for the one you forgive!

  4. i only recently learned of you and subscribed to your blog. i haven’t read your book yet so forgive me (no pun intended) if you’d be repeating yourself to answer this question. i’m desperate though. i need further help concerning how to forgive a person who continually repeats the same offense. My “repeat offender” professes to be a believer but i struggle to find the fruit that supports that claim. (Admittedly, there are times the same could be said of me) My confusion is loudest where trust is concerned. i’m repeatedly reminded of my obligation to forgive and expected to trust him as though the crime were never committed. This scenario has gone on for many years. i’m aware of the “seventy times seven” teaching of Christ. Jesus also said to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:44,NASB) Paul said when writing to the Corinthians “not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Cor 5:11,NASB) Both could be considered applicable to my situation yet one approach so different from the other. i hope that without going into great detail, the reference to these 2 verses of Scripture will give some idea of what i’m facing. This situation has been a source of deep hurt and distress throughout my life. i’ve cried out to God for wisdom and help. i truly want to handle it as He would have me handle it. i would be grateful for any Scriptural insights you may provide.

  5. P.S. The quote from Matthew 5:44 was actually from the KJV. Not the NASB.

  6. Cassia,

    Thank you for stopping by my blog.

    My first advice to people is always to be involved in a Bible preaching, Christ-centered church. Then you can find input from wise leaders who will shepherd you in the midst of such struggles. You should take anything I say here with a grain of salt, because my knowledge of the situation is so limited.

    It seems in this case that the other party is not truly repentant. There may be “worldly repentance,” but this behavior is not fruit consistent with truly being sorry. Further, even if he is repentant, forgiveness does not mean the elimination of consequences. In this case, you will need to take steps in your relationship for the future. Of course, those steps are heavily dependent on the nature of your relationship with the other party.

    It is not inconsistent with the Bible to no longer fellowship with an unrepentant offender.

    Most of all, I would encourage you to talk to your pastor/elders if you are part of a good church. If not, then I encourage you to find a Bible believing church as soon as possible.


  7. P.S. Being a Christian does not mean that you always treat the other party as though an offense never happened! I do think my book would help you sort through some of that – – but, I don’t want to sound like a salesman! That is not my heart.

  8. Really good post here, Chris. Thanks so much. Ps 73 is spot on with regards to giving us a “God’s eye” view of things and takes us outside the immediate and into the consummate state of all circumstances we encounter. One day, Christ will set everything right side up and this is a hope that anchors our souls!

  9. Paul, thanks that is so encouraging. What a good summary statement on your part. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Thank you for a rapid response, Chris. Health issues have rendered me nearly bed-bound. This naturally makes it difficult for me to get involved with a local fellowship of believers in the traditional sense. i’m praying for healing and fully intend to knit myself in somewhere as soon as i’m able. i wish there were a way to discuss this further as i still have unanswered questions. i don’t want to be a “blog hog” though.

  11. Dear Chris,

    I again want to thank you for all that you shared with us at the 2010 Peacemaker conference, in your main message and in the workshop you led.

    As I shared with you then, my son was killed by an underaged unrepentant drunk driver. Mostly because of your messages, now I can smile with tears in my eyes and say to you that I have forgiven this young man. I have since felt the great burden lifted from my heart and now I have joy again. Yes, I dearly miss my son, but for as much as I do, our God is far greater than the pain!

    I pray for two things: for the salvation of this young man and that the Lord will allow me to use this experience to help free others from their pain by sharing the life offered in the Gospel.

    God bless you, Chris, and your Ministry!!
    Ann Marie

  12. Ann Marie, It was a privilege to meet you! Thanks for your warm and tender spirit. That is so Christ-like that you pray for the driver.

    1 Peter 2:21-25,


  13. Thank you, Chris. I have read through your article and will read it again. I find it freeing. It is just what I need to hear TODAY. My husband of 34 years divorced me 3 years ago. Since then, I have been trying to climb out of the pit of despair, loneliness, and depression. I am so lonely that I want my old life back. But your article has come just in time to remind me that my husband was abusive and that he alienated many people against me and that he has NEVER said that he was sorry though I have done that. I see more clearly now, that though I am suffering, it was the Lord Jesus Christ who freed me from an abusive relationship to give me a new life. I want to lean deeper into Him. Again, thank you.

  14. Kayse, Thanks for your comment. I pray that you have a Christ-centered local church where the Gospel is proclaimed and the Word is taught. Forgiveness can only be unpacked in the context of Christian community.

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